SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Each January, industry leaders gather at the NYS Agricultural Society Annual Meeting & Forum to discuss priority issues and to recognize peers for outstanding achievement. At the historic 190th Annual Forum on Thursday, January 6th, stakeholders met at the Syracuse OnCenter to discuss growing a greener planet and opportunities created by NY’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This is one of the most ambitious climate laws in the world and will set standards to achieve net-zero emissions, increase renewable energy usage, and ensure climate justice. Also featured at the 2022 Forum was the State of Agriculture Address presented by NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball.
“The State of NY has aggressive, nation leading climate goals, with some deliverables due within the decade,” said NYS Ag Society President Mark Modzeleski. “Our membership – ranging from producers, suppliers, consultants, advocates to lenders – needs to be part of the conversation that will help develop sensible rules of the road to decrease carbon and methane output. Despite pandemic pressures, the Forum was able to attract thought leaders on the state and national level to discuss climate action. There is so much to learn, and opportunities to engage and innovate.”
A third-generation grower/shipper from Southern California, AG Kawamura is a former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “My family business has changed greatly over 40 years,” said Kawamura. “The availability of water, land and labor are principal drivers. The types of crops grown in my region are changing. The abundance of citrus groves in Orange County are no longer. We now look for available property in many unlikely places like military bases and vacant residential property. Anywhere that will grow weeds can grow crops with the right infrastructure. Agriculture is not broken here. But we need to be more collaborative and innovative in how we produce food. We can get a lot more accomplished by enlisting the support of a broad base of stakeholders.”
Morning and Afternoon Panelists
Suzanne Hunt of Hunt Country Vineyards discussed how the wine and grape industry has been an early adopter of new technologies and innovative growing practices to help mitigate the impact of climate change on small fruit. She is seventh generation on her family operation located in Branchport, NY. Suzanne and moderator John Noble of Noblehurst Farms, a Western NY dairy, are members of the Agriculture and Forestry Panel of the NY Climate Action Council. The Council is tasked with developing a draft scoping plan that will serve as an initial framework for how NYS will implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. For Hunt, finding ways to finance required changes on the farm level will be key to making critical progress. Also participating in the morning panel was Brian Steinmuller of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets who encouraged Forum attendees to comment on the draft scoping plan during the 120-day public comment period, beginning January 1, 2022. Six public hearings across the State, both in-person and virtual, will take place to encourage broad-base discussion.
Afternoon panelists focused on emerging opportunities brought on by new technology and collaborations. Speakers included Dr. Tristan Brown of SUNY ESF, Stephanie Castle of American Farmland Trust, and Tinia Pina of Renuble, Inc. A self-proclaimed “techie”, Tinia is a principal in a Glens Falls-based research project that is measuring the effectiveness of utilizing vacant city property as an in-door farm to grow desirable food products. “We hope to deliver on multiple goals,” said Pina. “Increasing local food production, encouraging downtown revitalization, reducing energy use and accommodating a changing workforce all come into play.”
A full recording of the day’s program, including Commissioner Richard Ball’s State of Agriculture Address, is available for NYS Ag Society members and interested parties upon request. For more information, contact Ann Shephard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distinguished Service Citation Winner Patrick Hooker is One of Eight Honorees
The Distinguished Service Citation, sponsored by NY Farm Bureau, is awarded annually to an individual who has provided exceptional service to the agricultural industry, improving the industry’s image among the non-farming community, and fostering support, progress and success in NY’s diverse agricultural arena. Recently retired as NYS Deputy Secretary of Food and Agriculture, Pat Hooker had a 37-year career in state government working in a variety of capacities within the NYS Assembly, Senate and Department of Agriculture and Markets. A full interview with Patrick Hooker and Hans Kunze, award chair, can be found on the NYS Ag Society’s Facebook page.
Established in 1832, the mission of the NYS Agricultural Society is to build a robust future for NY’s food, agricultural and natural resource industries by providing networking and educational opportunities for its strongest advocates, decision-makers, and aspiring leaders.
–NYS Agricultural Society